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The Demise of Chivalry

I’m going on a date tonight where the guy is actually picking me up! Like at my place…he may even come in for a minute…
We met through an online dating site and have been talking for a couple of weeks. Earlier we spoke over the phone finalizing the details of our first “face to face”, such as what part of town we lived in, where we might want to go, etc. etc. I was trying to figure out the general whereabouts of where he lived. Not the exact location including street address, square footage, interest rate or mortgage pmts but just the general vicinity. Meanwhile he was naming off all kinds of places which were nowhere near anywhere in between us. Finally he caught on to what I was getting at, stopped and said, “Wait! You don’t want me to pick you up?” with what I interpreted as genuine bewilderment. Either this dude hasn’t been participating in the online dating scene for long or he just doesn’t see himself as being creepy enough to justify separate vehicles.
“Well, um, I ah…” I faltered, my brain scrambling for why, again, did I always insist on taking my own vehicle. Oh, yeah, I thought, not doing so would provide an excellent chance of securing my own little thirty minutes of fame as the main character on Criminal ID- unsolved cases, three years later.
His taken aback reaction as well as my own surprise at his offer got me to thinking…is chivalry really dead in our culture or has it been forced into early retirement by twenty-first century single and looking nutcases? Is it truly our reality that this world we live in is so chilling we would rather spend $4 a gallon on gas and forfeit wine or a drink in order to avoid the risk of our potential stalker finding out where we live?
Is the sweet picturesque cliché featuring the clean cut spiffy young man sprinting up the lit up, flowered walkway which gaily lead to the huge porched entrance of the cozy red bricked farmhouse nothing more than a fond memory our grandmothers loved to tell?
I mean, I know times have changed. I realize my disguised time traveler in fireman’s clothing is going to have to deal with the gate, installed for my safety, and the confusion with entering the code, and will have to patiently navigate through my dyslexic directions and then most likely will come to words with the weekend rental cop who takes his job very seriously. Yup, times, they are a changing! But when it comes to dating in the 21st century, is it because protocol and gallantry and good ol fashioned small town etiquette have fallen by the wayside or are people so completely crazy these days, that in 1993 when some intuitive girl first trusted those hairs standing up on the back of her neck and had said firmly, “No, Lester, I think it would be better if I just hitched hiked home,” thus beginning the now sensational new trend of “Um, how bout I just meet you there?”
One of the few delights to online dating that I can see so far would be the offers, by way of magical cyber-spaceness, of a much broader selection than the old days. A smorgasbord for your choosing complete with pictures, personality tests and depending on how you look at it, the delights of the webcam, all provided at your fingertips within the comfort of your own home, office, library or vehicle. This cornucopia of choices, some no doubt ending up being the cause of some future restraining order, is nothing like the old days of choosing between the three left over single guys that still lived on my block. Back then we never drove farther than fifteen minutes from our small town and if we did happen to meet anyone with potential outside these boundaries, we’d never actually entertain the idea of dating them… I mean, when would I ever see him? He lives, like twelve miles up Valley Vista… Nope all we could possibly hope for from some hot guy in the next town was maybe adding him to my list of pen pals I had yet to write.
I recently became single and have had the pleasure of a few dates prior to meeting “The Beav” but never had I considered the idea of any of them actually coming to my house to pick me up… besides the obvious trepidation of them finding out where I lived, therefore saving them hours of research on the internet, this would mean having them pull up right outside my place. Which would begin the silent brow beating inner inquiries of ‘Do I ask him up? Does that send the wrong message? How would I get him to leave? If he starts playing his guitar again, he’s going to wake my neighbors…” and so on. If any of my past “first dates” were any indication, I would have to be very careful to avoid giving any sort of mixed signals which could potentially alert my date to the possibility of that green light he’d been hinting at all evening.
So, my only choice if he were to pick me up, besides trying to convince him to drop me at the corner, would be to initiate that awkward goodbye, “Welp, thanks for a fun night! I really do hope you find your wallet soon and just want to reiterate the importance of cancelling those cards right away and not waiting like you said to check balances or whatever… Anyway, thanks too for the ride…do you want some gas money? No? well ok….” and slipping out of the car quickly, without hesitation so as not to encourage eye contact or worse, the offer to walk me to the door. No, being picked up was never part of the decision making process in the pre-date period. That time was filled to capacity with worrying about what to wear or if wearing my hair up really did give the illusion that I was going bald like one of my dates had said, or if my fake spray tan looked as fake and uneven under bar lighting as it did under my florescent lights.
I think the era of assuming the date always came to the door ended about the same time moms started wearing slacks and working outside the home. In fact, if it wasn’t for my dad yelling, “Tell your boy Sean that if he blows that horn one more time and doesn’t come to the door, I’ll rip off his head and use his neck as a toilet,” I don’t think my generation would have even known that having the guy come fetch you was a true sign that he’d been raised right. We thought the rule only applied to special occasions like Prom or Sadie Hawkins and that was only because parents wanted pictures beforehand. Only then did the entire family hide behind the heavy, greenish brown dust laden draperies which covered the front picture window and listened to my younger sister commentator-like hushed play by play, which provided unneeded details about how his tie didn’t come close to matching his pants or how funny it was that his cowlick would not stand down not matter how much spit he hastily applied as he made his way awkwardly up the drive.
So why did I break all the rules and say ok to this particular guy who seemed different than the rest? It’s simply because he comes across as an honest to goodness, genuine, old fashioned guy.
He’d rather talk on the phone than text, he was shocked when I insisted on going Dutch, and he’s bringing a bottle of wine which I assume he wants to open before dinner, so I guess I’ll ask him up. And I would just bet he’ll be opening both the car door for me as well as any other doors we may encounter. He’s like Opie, all growed up but with hair and minus the lucrative director’s salary and about sixty extra pounds.
I may be naive and gullible and he still may be a modern day creepster, but this is why I plan to take his wine glass and carefully put it in a zip lock baggy and hide it under the sweaters in my closet. It’s also why I wrote his name along with where and when we met, where we are going and his license plate number and carefully placed that info on the front seat of my car just like I’d seen done on an episode of CSI. But this was only after I bought a can of premium nuts and used the expensive crystal bowl to put them in, lit the good candles and made the decision to shave above my knees tonight. After all, wouldn’t that be exactly what June Cleaver would do?
Shelley Allsup , shelleyallsup@gmail.com . All Rights Reserved

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